I recently took a trip to Texas and while out to dinner, I had an encounter with Troy Aikman, the hall of fame & former Superbowl winning quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. I have come to realize that there are no coincidences. There are no accidents. The Lord is always speaking through the day to day events that occur in our lives, and this encounter with Troy Aikman was no exception. Before I get into that story, however, let me share some thoughts about why this encounter almost never happened.
For many of us, the concept of doing what we want seems like a pipe dream at best, and childish, fleshly, and irresponsible at worst. As a result, most people live lives doing what they don’t want to do thinking that is their lot from the Lord. As a result, most must find external motivations to keep them doing what they feel they need to do. This is a tragedy.
Many people receive and submit to the expectations of well meaning peers or leadership figures to keep them in situations they would never choose for themselves. They convince themselves that they are blind to reality and are not qualified to take a direction or make their own decisions. So they settle for the expectations of others, or adhere to an external moral code of ethics & responsibility that seems logical and loving on the surface. The only problem is that they have to shove down and deny the life of their own spirit and conscience in the process. It’s the opposite of freedom, and it’s also the opposite of the kingdom of God. Slaves are made in such ways.
The kingdom of God is first and foremost internal. By kingdom of God, I mean the person of Jesus Christ who dwells within. The hope of true glory for us, and the world that will receive this kingdom, is within us (Col. 1:27). No external force, situation, moral or religious code, or group of people should cause us to violate the personal freedom we have been given. This freedom is found in the union of our / His spirit that dwells within.
The battle to be governed by external verses internal motivations is a battle that many of us face daily. My encounter with Troy Aikman is a perfect example of this struggle. I’m convinced the Lord was trying to show me something profound through this situation. Let me explain…
Fear vs Delight
As I mentioned earlier, I recently took a trip to Texas, and I was out to dinner one evening with a couple of my friends. As we were eating dinner, Troy Aikman walks into the restaurant and sits down just a couple of tables from us. As a fan of the game of American football, I was very excited that this major American sports icon was literally two or three tables away from us! I was visibly excited and I called the attention of my friends to notice him.
I then scanned the restaurant and noticed something quite profound. I saw two things on the faces of almost all the people in the restaurant. First, I saw delight. Troy Aikman is a legend everywhere in America, but especially in Dallas, Texas where he played professional football during his playing career. Most people there no doubt watched him play on T.V. and some probably went to watch him play in games at their city stadium. They delighted in him, and I could see it in their eyes as most of the restaurant was looking at him and talking with their own respective tables about him. Some were pointing and motioning the attention of others to notice him.
When looking at the people notice him, I could also see something else.
Although some of the people wanted to meet him and talk to him, no one dared to approach him. No one talked to him. I was shocked. Really? They just stared at him. It was as if I could read their minds. I know this because the very same thing was also happening in me. Delight and fear. Thoughts like this were running through my mind:
“Wow, that’s Troy Aikman! What a legend and a great quarterback”. (delight)
“Man, I’d really love to meet him”. (delight)
“I’d hate to bother him. After all, he probably gets bothered continually. (fear)
“Leave the guy alone and let him eat in peace. It’s not nice to stare”. (fear)
“What a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and honor someone I admire”. (delight)
“Why are you treating him like some sort of an idol? Why are you promoting the celebrity culture? You need to die to this”. (fear)
“The most loving thing to do would be to leave him alone and let him eat in peace”. (fear)
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Interestingly, earlier in the day we had just been talking about the nature of the kingdom of God and how delighting in Him in one another is the key to receiving the very desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). When we are awake to His indwelling kingdom, we can actually do whatever we want to do! Yes, that’s right. Freedom!
No, I’m not talking about indulging the flesh. Indulging the flesh actually violates the very thing our spirit craves and desires. Thankfully, we don’t have to be afraid of indulging our spirit. That’s where He dwells, and it is there that we receive the greatest desires of our hearts!
As I sat there wrestling with delight & fear, my friend asked me a very important question. She asked me this:
“What do you want to do?”
Bingo. That clarified everything! I knew what I desired. I wanted to delight in Troy Aikman. I wanted to meet him and honor him. In doing that, I would have to overcome the fear of potential rejection in the case he didn’t want to be approached. I was determined that delight was going to win the battle over fear, however.
Even if it made Troy uncomfortable, I was going to delight in him anyway.
Even if it interrupted his dinner, I was going to delight in him anyway.
Even if the whole restaurant thought I was being rude by approaching him, I was going to delight in him anyway.
This is what I wanted to do. This is what I was going to do. I could hear the Lord’s pleasure in my choosing to delight in another despite the potential risks of misunderstanding or rejection. It was the most loving thing to do. As a result, I approached him. I could quickly tell that he was delighted in my delight of him. We had a brief and pleasant exchange. I said some honoring things that came to mind and we took a photo together. As I walked away from that dinner, I knew this was a message from the Lord. He was speaking through this incident.
Brothers and sisters, we have been given eyes to truly see one another. Deeply. When you see one of your brothers or sisters with His eyes, you will delight in what you see. When this occurs, you will have a choice to express your delight in them, and you will also have a choice to give in to human wisdom & fear by keeping your delight at a distant arms length. May we always choose delight. Even if it is misunderstood. It’s the most loving thing to do. After all, we were made to be lovers and the kingdom of God comes in riding on the back of love.